Two Studies Show AI-Powered Physical Therapy Shown to Beat Traditional Physical Therapy

Recovery from knee injuries is faster and longer lasting with a unique remote physical therapy approach than with traditional physical therapy, two scientific studies show. The Digital Therapist, developed by tech-enabled physical therapy provider SWORD Health, was twice as strong in recovering patients than traditional patient-to-therapist intervention all the while presenting durable effects.

SWORD Health, which has digital therapists delivering physical therapy to patients at home while human clinical teams remotely supervise the recovery process, proved their approach was effective in both studies, outperforming traditional physical therapy in recovery time, but also in treatment engagement and quality of life parameters. The articles also showed the results were long-standing, proving that SWORD Health’s innovative approach to physical therapy promotes significant cost reductions while improving outcomes.

The first study was published in Nature Scientific Reports and featured 59 individuals who were followed for eight weeks. Participants were split into an experimental group of 30 people using SWORD’s combined AI and human approach and another group of 29 people using a traditional physical therapy approach to knee injury recovery.

Results showed the group using SWORD’s Digital Therapist improved twice as much than the conventional physical therapy group in the test that objectively measured their recovery (Timed Up and Go test). The same results surfaced for the subjective, patient-reported quality of life assessment regarding the existence of symptoms or pain and the ability to perform activities of daily living.

Furthermore, and since the group of patients using SWORD’s Digital Therapist performed the treatment at home, patients had a higher active treatment time, proving this novel digital therapy enables a more intensive rehabilitation program.

The second study, published in Journal of Medical Internet Research, the leading Health Informatics journal, aimed at proving the Digital Therapist’s medium and long-term superiority. The article demonstrates that the benefits shown in the group using SWORD’s Digital Therapist are maintained three and six months after surgery, without additional treatment beyond the 8-week program. The results apply to objective performance measures and also to subjective scales of pain, quality of life and ability to perform daily activities.

“These findings prove SWORD Health’s innovative approach is the future of physical therapy,” said CEO Virgílio Bento. “We are not just dramatically reducing costs for physical therapy. We are actually proving to be a better, faster, and tremendously more convenient approach to physical therapy that enables patients to recover at home.”

Bento points out that, “Demand for physical therapy is rising around the world yet, for the vast majority of people, the therapy they need, in terms of quality and intensity, is out of reach.” SWORD Health’s CEO also reinforces that the company’s mission is, “To democratize access to effective physical therapy and deliver increased operational efficiency to Healthcare systems around the world.”

Bento was inspired to develop SWORD Digital Therapist after his brother had an accident in his youth and the family had to deal with the shortage and inefficiency of physical therapy providers.

Fernando Correia, SWORD Health’s Chief Medical Officer, is: “Very pleased to finally prove that patients can access effective treatment without leaving their own houses, with sustained benefits over time. This is a life-changing approach to physical therapy and we are looking forward to making it accessible to more and more patients.”